60-year-old Angel Perez went down to Matt’s Landing, a popular area for catching crabs, on July 2, the Post reports. The next day, Perez’s right leg was swollen, red, and dotted with blisters.
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It took Perez three trips for medical care before doctors at his local emergency room realized the patient had developed necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria. He developed the condition from a bacteria found in coastal waters called Vibrio, which doctors believe entered his skin through scratches on his leg.
At first, urgent care staff thought Perez developed a minor bacterial infection. ER staff then diagnosed him with cellulitis. Now, Perez, who also has Parkinson’s disease, remains in critical condition, according Fox News.
The New Jersey’s man prognosis is currently unknown. His daughter, Dilena Perez-Dila, explained to CBS Philly that her father — who has a compromised immune system from Parkinson’s — is experiencing kidney problems.
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“They told us that his kidneys shut down and that he would need dialysis immediately,” Perez-Dilan told the outlet.
She also says her father will have to sacrifice his limbs in order to live.
“The choice is life or limbs, and I’ve heard that multiple times,” she said.
Necrotizing fasciitis is extremely rare, affecting just 1 in 100,000 people. Caused by many strains of bacteria, the condition destroys a patient’s body tissue and spreads quickly. In this case, Perez was exposed to the bacteria Vibrio, which can be found in raw seafood — especially oysters — and salt water.
People with necrotizing fasciitis develop red, painful, and swollen skin as well as a fever. As the condition worsens, patients will begin to see blisters, changes in skin color, and pus from the infected areas. Strong antibiotics and surgery to remove infected tissue are standard treatments.
Although the chances that most people will contract a flesh-eating bacteria is rare, Perez’s family urges people to be cautious when enjoy the ocean waters this summer.
“People want to swim and have fun, but just be very careful. Don’t just jump in the water with wounds open. But, that’s what people do. We think water is safe,” Perez-Dilan told Fox News. “If you see something that’s out of the norm, go and get it checked.”
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